Information for Organizations

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The Evaluation Lab FAQ's

  • What is The Evaluation Lab?

    The Evaluation Lab, housed within The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University, seeks to advance the social justice missions of organizations serving diverse communities by offering high-quality, affordable, collaborative, evaluation and applied research services.

    The Evaluation Lab’s focus is on supporting organizations that serve people in Kalamazoo County who are historically vulnerable, marginalized, and oppressed through using culturally responsive and equitable practices. Under the expert supervision of the Lab Director and collaboration from your organization, a team of undergraduate and graduate student-evaluators develop evaluation and/or data collection plans tailored to meet your organization’s needs and then implement this plan. To provide the highest quality, Lab deliverables like evaluation plans, presentations, and reports are workshopped with the entire lab staff and many of The Evaluation Center evaluators prior to delivery to the community organization.

  • What are the benefits?

    Kalamazoo County-serving organizations receive individualized program evaluation services. Working with the Lab can help your organization to:

    • Measure program progress and outcomes
    • Make data-informed decisions
    • Gather and communicate evidence of their programs’ impact and value
    • Identify opportunities to maximize effective practices and improve processes
    • Better understand the experiences, assets, and needs of your constituents, including their experiences of oppression, discrimination, and racism
    • Gain insights on how your programs create change
    • Identify ways to maximize the efficiency and impact of your work
  • What does the Lab offer?

    The Evaluation Lab will meet your organization where it is on your evaluation journey – whether you are ready to develop a comprehensive evaluation strategy or simply need help understanding and using data you already have. We seek to empower your organization to measure progress, improve your program processes, and make data-informed decisions to benefit your community and constinuency. We will work with  you to identify and tailor services that meet your immediate and long-term needs for leveraging evaluation to advance your mission. In addition to designing and conducting comprehensive program evaluations, “a la carte” services may include the following:

    • Evaluation strategy development
    • Literature review
    • Asset and needs assessment
    • Analysis of existing program data
    • Survey, interview, and focus group design, implementation, analysis, and reporting
    • Evaluation capacity building
    • Logic model and theory of change development
    • Outcome harvesting, most significant change, and other innovative, low-cost outcome evaluation techniques
  • What is the Lab's approach?

    All Lab evaluations subscribe to Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation (CREE). CREE is a theoretical, conceptual, and political position that includes the centrality of and to culture in the theory and practice of evaluation. CREE recognizes that demographic, sociopolitical, and contextual dimensions, locations, perspectives, and characteristics of culture matter fundamentally in evaluation. Lab evaluators using the CREE approach work to advance equity by informing the program’s strategy, improvement, decision-making, and policy formation.

    Furthermore, Lab evaluators follow these key practice principles:

    • Honor and utilize pre-existing data and the work of others
    • Emphasize participatory and inclusive evaluation approaches that prioritizes the perspectives and needs of your organization’s clients/consumers
    • Integrate quantitative and qualitative data
    • Value the authentic voices of organizational and community partners as experts in their work
    • Contribute to emergent work and support experimentation
    • Find ways to share learning with the broader nonprofit and evaluation communities

    Because the Evaluation Lab employs participatory and inclusive evaluation approaches,  our evaluations may take a bit more time to establish inclusivity, and build rapport with and genuinely listen to the organizations’ consumers (i.e., those impacted by the program or initiative such as participants, clients, or beneficiaries). This helps ensure that data collection always examines equity-based outcomes and outcome data are disaggregated according to relevant demographic factors. 

  • Which organizations are eligible?

    The Evaluation Lab serves public and nonprofit organizations serving Kalamazoo County, Michigan. The Lab prioritizes (1) organizations with smaller annual budgets; (2) organizations that serve the community’s vulnerable, marginalized, and oppressed; and (3) organizations that are led by communities of color, immigrants, and/or working-class and poor people. To learn more, contact the Lab Director.

  • How much do Lab services cost?

    Evaluation is a service that is available in varying depths and specificities. The final cost of any evaluation will depend upon the scope of work agreed upon between the Evaluation Lab and your organization.

    The lab charges organizations solely based on student-evaluator wages as well as the lab director for project management and student-evaluator supervision. 

  • How are costs reduced?

    To remove barriers for organizations serving marginalized communities with less access to financial resources, the Evaluation Lab is committed to offering affordable services by employing and training students to conduct the evaluations, and using a simplified contract and fixed pricing to minimize the bureaucratic burden for all organizations working with the Lab. Furthermore, the Evaluation Lab seeks philanthropic support

  • How do I apply for my organization?

    Contact us today to schedule time for your complimentary initial 30-minute consultation.

    To help us better understand your organization, we ask that you:

    • Complete and submit the Consultation Request Form. Someone from our team will contact you within 48 hours (during business hours), or at your requested time.
    • Please be prepared to discuss the specifics of your project, your timeline for assistance, and any other relevant information regarding your proposed evaluation consultation. We respect the confidentiality of your project and will, at your request, supply you with a Non-Disclosure Agreement before discussing specifics.

    The Lab Director is available via telephone Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Eastern. Feel free to call an leave a voicemail (269) 387-3208.

    The Lab staff pride ourselves on prompt and in-depth email responses. We try to answer all urgent queries promptly. You can contact us through the Lab Director

  • What happens next?

    After receiving your completed Consultation Request form, you should hear back from the Lab within approximately one week to schedule a complimentary 30-minute face-to-face or Zoom consultation.

    To prepare for your 30-minute consultation, please be ready to discuss the specifics of your needs, your timeline for assistance, and any other relevant information regarding your proposed evaluation consultation. We respect the confidentiality of your organization, programs, projects, initiatives, and especially your clients/consumers.

    Following the 30-minute consultation, the Evaluation Lab will send you a Consultation Summary which will describe the Lab’s understanding of your program and your evaluation needs. For organizations wishing to proceed with the Lab’s services, the Lab will develop a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a scope of work.